With a total runtime of 110 minutes, Lakeview Terrace is the sort of excruciatingly bad movie that becomes both physically and mentally painful to endure. I'm sure you've all experienced something like it before, where every minute seems like two minutes. Well, with Lakeview Terrace, every minute seems more like two and a half minutes, which makes sitting through this craptacular garbage feel like over four hours of torture.
Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington co-star as Chris and Lisa Mattson, an interracial couple who buy their first house in the hills that overlook Los Angeles. The Mattson's next door neighbor is Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), a police officer raising two children after the death of his wife. Early on it is established that Abel is a strict, hard-ass father, and more important to the hackneyed plot, he isn't too fond of white people. More specifically, the thought of interracial relationships don't sit well with him, and the thought of the Mattsons living next door really chaps his hide. This sets off a serious of contrived and ridiculous confrontations between the Mattsons and Abel, as he becomes more and more like some sort of sinister monster trying to let them know they aren't welcome in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, wildfires burn throughout the wooded areas surrounding Los Angeles, eventually threatening to destroy the homes of both the Mattsons and Abel. That's what we call "metaphorical," folks. See, the fires really represent racism and intolerance. And in any movie other than this steaming pile of shit, the forced message might not have seemed so eye-rollingly bad.
Normally, when a film is as bad as Lakeview Terrace, it can be difficult pinpointing exactly what is wrong. But in the case of this stinker, it is obvious--the script is worthless trash. To call David Loughery and Howard Korder's screenplay bad would be a disservice to other bad scripts. This thing is a special kind of shit, resulting in a movie that is a special kind of bad.
Directed by Neil LaBute, whose past work has included great films like The Shape of Things, In the Company of Men and Nurse Betty, but also trash like the remake of The Wicker Man, Lakeview Terrace is the sort of film that usually turns up on cable or direct to video, bypassing theatrical release all together. The fact that anyone thought this was worthy of a release in theaters where unsuspecting idiots might actually pay money to watch it is proof that there are people in Hollywood who will piss on your head, tell you its raining, and expect you to pay them for the experience. The whole thing leaves you with a rotten taste in your mouth, not unlike you've licked the floor of a public restroom
Honestly, there is nothing good about Lakeview Terrace. Washington and Wilson play a couple so annoying that you hope they break up before the film is over. Washington is especially shrill as a manipulative wife who purposefully stops taking her birth control pills, but gets upset that her husband sneaks out to have cigarettes. Wilson is no better, and a charisma-challenged meathead who is slightly less compelling than a wet rock covered in moss. All of this leaves us with Jackson, overacting--as he's apt to do--in a role that seems like it was probably originally written for a white actor. In fact, the only thing entertaining about Lakeview Terrace is trying to imagine what it would have been like as it was most likely intended, with a racist white cop, and a black man married to a white woman. There's no way it would make this crap any better, but thinking about it helps create a distraction from watching this junk.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]